Photo of Don Pellmann by Chris Stone
Don Pellmann, in red, runs the 100 meter dash.

On September 20th, Mesa College in Kearny Mesa hosted the San Diego Senior Olympics, where athletes over the age of 50 competed in the traditional summer track and field events. Running, pole vaulting, javelin throwing, discus throwing, long jumping and high jumping, these seniors kicked butt, took names and broke world records. But wait – do you remember September 20th? It was 100 degrees in the shade in Kearny Mesa, and 115,000 SDG&E customers in San Diego lost power for several hours. Most residents were competing in the “100-centimeter from the air conditioner halt” – until the power went out.

On that steamy day, Don Pellmann of Santa Clara, CA, age 100, set five world masters records for the 100-104 year old age group. He’s the first centenarian to clear a bar of any height in the high jump and the first centenarian to complete a long jump in formal competition. Then he blew through the previous world records for the 100-meter dash, the shot put, and the discus. At the meet, Don was trailed by a reporter from the New York Times, awed student athletes from Mesa College, and fellow competitors who are only in their 70s and 80s, getting all fan-girl and fan-boy over Don. As for Don himself, he was grumpy about missing three times at the pole vault, even though he has nowhere to practice since he had to stop using the sandbox at the local park. As an encore, Don wrapped up the week by winning the USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week from the USA Track & Field Association.

Hidekichi Miyazaki Photo by CNN
Hidekichi Miyazaki Photo by CNN

 

Meanwhile, in Japan last week, a 105-year-old man, Hidekichi Miyazaki, set his third world record for being the world’s oldest competitive sprinter. Hidekichi, known as the Golden Bolt, ran the 100-meter dash in Kyoto at a Masters Athletics competition in 42.22 seconds. Until September 20th, he held the record for runners over 100 at 29.83 seconds, which he set in 2010, but Don Pellmann broke his record in San Diego with a time of 26.99 seconds. Nonetheless, Miyazaki thinks he has two or three more years of running left in him, so he may yet reclaim the record from his American rival. His dearest dream is to run against Usain Bolt, so one day we may see the Golden Bolt run against his namesake – Bolt’s agent says Usain will do it if his travel schedule allows!